The Capitaine

A rare mention by Basho of something non-Japanese in his poetry. Kabitan かびたん is a mis-pronunciation of kapitan かぴたん(甲比丹) and is a reference to the factor of the Dutch trade delegation at Dejima 出島 in Nagasaki 長崎. Once a year the factor would travel from Nagasaki to pay his respects to the Shogun in Edo 江戸 (modern Tokyo), and the poem is a comment that even someone as strange and alien as the foreign factor would prostrate himself in respect when meeting the Shogun.

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